There seems to be a growing trend among racquet companies to release their players frames at lighter weights. It’s more fashionable to tip the scales around the mid 11-oz. range to make the racquet nimbler for faster acceleration to better keep up with the ball speeds of the modern game. If a player wants more weight, the frame can always be customized. Not so with the Yonex VCORE Pro 97 (330g). The heavyweight of the company’s lineup remains one of the few racquets with a stock weight in excess of 12 oz. While that spec is becoming increasingly rare, the VCORE Pro 97 wears it quite well.
Being plenty to swing, the VCORE Pro is best suited for experienced players that can make use of the mass. The racquet generally dominates contact, whether driving a hard ground stroke or simply blocking back one from an opponent. But within that parameter, Yonex has attempted to make it a little more manageable than recent models. The swingweight is lower than the Duel G, with an ever so slightly thinner beam width as well, making for improved handling. And a quicker racquet can be a more offensive one.
Most notably, in the spin department. The power level was comparable, but the frame felted whippier than its predecessor. The 16x19 string pattern is also slightly more open than the previous 16x20 configuration. (And, thankfully, no more shared holes). Yonex has also implemented a new flexible graphite (Namd) in strategic locations to promote better dwell time and ball pocketing. Add it up and the VCORE Pro 97 has clearly been designed to put more work on the ball.
And it succeeds. I was a big fan of the Duel G model, but it wasn’t the most spin-friendly frame. Its update proved a more willing accomplice, as my ground strokes had good jump and constantly forced my opponents back to adjust for the incoming ball height. It was easy to stay consistent until an opportunity arose to bust open a point with a flatter, more penetrating shot, which the Pro 97 could deliver without much fuss. Control, both directional and distance, was mostly spot on. If I had to nitpick, the changes did seem to rob the frame of some of its previous clout, but it remains perfectly capable of exchanging heavy hitting, and rarely gets pushed around. Plus, the better maneuverability made it more adept at playing defense, so the tradeoff somewhat balanced out.
Serving was what I’ve come to expect from this line. It’s not one of those racquets where the ball just explodes off the strings; it requires some effort to produce power. But the juice generated when I got the mass moving was worth the squeeze. I never felt like I had to overswing to create offense as there was enough pop and accuracy to hurt my opponents and pick up my share of cheap points. Kickers didn’t have wicked hops, but they still had enough life to cause trouble. Players accustomed to lighter, stiffer, power racquets may think otherwise, but accomplished servers will be satisfied.
As will seasoned net players. The stability of the VCORE Pro continued to be a strength as it could stand up to the fastest incoming traffic, as well as stick volleys with pace and depth. Whether it was the thinner beam, new grommet pattern or the added materials, I also found this update to have better feel and touch than its predecessor. I had good success playing short and with angles, generally not strengths of my game. The one caveat being, while quicker, it was still harder to maneuver than some, and could take an adjustment period. But once acclimated to it, there’s no arguing with the results.
All in all, the VCORE Pro 97 (330g) is an impressive update. Yonex has managed to increase the frame’s offensive capabilities, without altering its core DNA of top-notch control, feel and stability. The heft may still be a non-starter for some, but this latest version should attract a wider audience. And let’s hope it doesn’t go on a diet anytime soon.